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Kalkhoven and Forsythe buy Cosworth from Ford
 by Mark Cipolloni

  November 15, 2004

(L to R) Ford's Richard Parry-Jones, Kevin Kalkhoven and Cosworth Managing Director Tim Routsis
Mark Cipolloni/AutoRacing1.com

In what can only be described as the deal-of-the-decade, Champ Car owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe have acquired Cosworth from the Ford Motor Company.  Today in London, England Kevin Kalkhoven, along with Cosworth Managing Director Tim Routsis, made the announcement to over 500 employees at a Rugby Club stadium in Northamptonshire, England, near Cosworth's headquarters.

The sale includes all aspects of Cosworth that Ford owned, including the headquarters in Northampton, England (north of London) and the plant in Torrance, California that looks after the Champ Car and IRL engine programs.

Kalkhoven and his Champ Car series partner Gerald Forsythe are 50/50 owners of Cosworth that will see Forsythe have an equal financial position in the company but Kalkhoven having more of the oversight role.

So far-reaching is Cosworth’s motorsports business, that Kalkhoven and Forsythe have moved from being owners of Champ Car (along with Paul Gentilozzi) to becoming two of the most influential men in motorsports.

Cosworth, who has a reputation for being one of the premier racing engine manufacturers in the world, has a history that dates back to the 1960’s when they powered the late great Jimmy Clark to so many Formula One victories in a Colin Chapman Lotus.

Champ Car owner Kevin Kalkhoven addresses the media in London.
Mark Cipolloni/AutoRacing1.com

Not only does this deal secure the future supply of engines for their Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, it guarantees that the Red Bull (formerly Jaguar) and Minardi F1 teams have engines to use in 2005.

Kalkhoven has also given guarantees that Cosworth will continue to supply engines to Chevrolet for their IRL program despite the fact that the IRL and Champ Car are bitter rivals.

There were many offers made for Cosworth, over 60, but it was clear that the Forsythe/Kalkhoven offer was superior.

"We had many offers for Cosworth," Routsis told AutoRacing1.com, "but it was clear that the Forsythe/Kalkhoven team had the best deal for Cosworth, its employees, and for Ford.  Dealing with Kevin Kalkhoven and his staff was a pleasure.  Many of the teams submitting proposals were racing folks.  However, it was clear his team were professional businessmen, and at the end of the day, Cosworth must be run like a business.  A business can only be successful if it's profitable and it's clear Kevin and his team know how to do that."

As many people are beginning to find out in motorsports, Kevin Kalkhoven is a man of his word, and all the people we have talked to say he's like a breath of fresh air in the industry.

Tim Routsis, Managing Director of Cosworth
Mark Cipolloni/AutoRacing1.com

"I first sat down with Kevin about a month ago and we wrote down the plan outline on a single piece of paper," said Routsis.  "It's amazing that after many days of intense negotiations the final contract came out just like we summarized it that day.  It's a testament to the integrity of a man like Kevin.  It was clear his team knew why they wanted to buy Cosworth and their plans for the future of the company were best for Cosworth, its employees and Ford.

With Cosworth now cutting its umbilical cord from Ford, they are free and independent to do business with any car manufacturer in the world.

Not only will Cosworth continue to make some of the best racing engines in the world, Kalkhoven has big plans for Cosworth to make after-market car parts for any number of cars worldwide.  Particularly interesting to him is the "tuner" car market, which is a craze in Europe, Asia and North America.

Champ Car owner Kevin Kalkhoven looks back from the cockpit as he flies his Gulfstream V jet to London for Monday's announcement.  There's no looking back now.
Mark Cipolloni/AutoRacing1.com

"We have no plans to change the name of Cosworth," Kalkhoven told AutoRacing1.com in London.  "We are pretty much happy with the management team, headed by Tim Routsis of Cosworth, and that will stay largely in place."

"This is a unique opportunity to own a company with a heritage and legacy," said Kalkhoven. "I'm delighted with the Red Bull deal and that Cosworth will be on the F1 grid."

"We are strongly committed to continuing the great F1 tradition at Cosworth and take that very successful heritage into the future."

Kalkhoven bought JDS Uniphase for $11 million with his partner Dan Pettit, and grew it into a billion dollar business.

"When we signed that deal," Kalkhoven told AutoRacing1.com, "Dan and I were completely out of money.  We had nothing left, but we took a gamble, grew the business, and several years later we sold it for almost $1 billion."

Kalkhoven and company have made a career out of taking pieces of businesses from large corporations and building them into profitable entities.

"I have made a career out of buying pieces of companies and growing them into successful businesses.  Cosworth is no different than JDS Uniphase in that regard," said Kalkhoven.  We see Cosworth as a company that has tremendous potential and we intend to grow it into a hugely profitable business."

Both Kalkhoven and Routsis see a big opportunity for Cosworth in the tuner car market in the USA. 

"We see the Torrance, California plant playing a big role in that," said Routsis.  It makes sense to make car parts as close to the location where you are going to sell them, especially in the low-margin, high volume business like that.

There are also plans for Cosworth to build race engines for the support series of Champ Car as well.

"We are looking at building economical but powerful race engines for Champ Car's support series as well," said Routsis.  "We see the Torrance shop servicing all those engines as well as our Champ Car and IRL programs. Cosworth can build race engines for any racing series now.  We have some of the best engineers and manufacturing processes in the world and we no longer have to do stuff just for Ford."

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